While my life buddy has already begun mourning the death of summer, I’m consumed with fall fantasies. Sweaters, scarves, boots! Crisp breezes, crunchy red leaves, the gradually growing glow of impending winter holidays. September through December is a darling stretch of year. It’s like walking into a beloved neighborhood bookstore.
And I can’t stop thinking about soup. Pumpkin soup. Cauliflower soup. Lentil soup. I made up a batch of potato leek on Saturday even though I’m trying not to ride the potato train until all the summer goodies are gone. Heavy hot food—it’s what I crave. So, for dinner on this humid August night, flyaways fashioning a frame around my face, I made a hearty eggplant sandwich.
Like “the Sparkle Nail,” eggplant is ATR at my office right now. Unlike the upcoming cool season, eggplant is not one of my particular favorites. It can be mushy or bitter, or strangely flavorless. You have to salt it, wash it, peel it. Haaaaaaaaassle.
Well, it turns out peer pressure is too much for me. Obvs. It also turns out eggplant isn’t hard to prepare. And it is a fantastic vehicle for cheese, sauce, and breading. I give you: an eggplant parmesan sub. Except, I used podda. Podda is the new parm.
Slice the eggplant into rounds and then wet with egg. Crust the rounds in whole-wheat breadcrumbs and podda cheese, seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry the rounds in olive oil, 5ish minutes per side. When both sides are golden, transfer to a cookie sheet and top with shredded mozzarella. Toast your garlic bread at the same time. To prepare the garlic bread, mince one big clove of garlic and combine with two tablespoons of butter, then spread the seasoned butter on both sides of the baguette.
Pop the tray under the broiler until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Meanwhile, heat up some tomato sauce in the pan you used to fry the eggplant—I added a big pinch of red pepper flakes because apparently that’s what I do now. Assemble the sandwich by saucing the toast and layering fried, cheesed rounds of eggplant on the garlic bread base.
This sandwich was spicy, crunchy, buttery, cheesy, melty, saucy, tangy, and delicious. The best part: basing the sandwich on garlic bread! Why have we not been doing this? Thank Jeff the Sandwich King for that neat little addition. And thank too many holiday episodes of RHONJ for the rest.